Does a Real Estate Broker Have to Have an Office? 4 Reasons Why Not
It is 2020—does a real estate broker have to have an office to run a successful business anymore? While having a physical location has traditionally been a sign of professionalism and status, the recent and ongoing global pandemic makes maintaining a brick-and-mortar office difficult, at least for the foreseeable future.
Over the past few years, the industry as a whole has moved more towards remote operations.
One of the main reasons agents and brokers have a physical location is to meet with prospective buyers, but even these services are going virtual. In 2018, the National Association of Realtors reported the majority of consumers begin their home search online and not at a real estate office.
Here are four benefits from not having an office.
Running a virtual office or hybrid office may seem overwhelming, but most things can happen online at the same capacity as in person. Because there is no physical location, there are no overhead costs like utilities, rent and more. These cost savings can be passed down to clients, which makes brokers more competitive.
When it comes to whether or not to have an office, here are the questions to ask:
• Can a real estate broker still provide full service to buyers, sellers and agents without an office?
• Do buyers and sellers care if their broker has an office?
• Is a physical office worth the money?
If your business doesn’t require regular, in-person collaboration from a large team and has little drop-in business, then a physical office may be an unnecessary business expense.
Transitioning away from a physical office allows your business to operate at any time of day, in any location. Clients hear back from virtual agents sooner because they can access resources remotely, increasing their productivity and responsiveness.
These days, a scanner, printer, computer and Internet access are the main tools agents and brokers require for operating a streamlined, effective business from home or on the road. Everything from agent training and marketing support to document storage and signing can be safely and securely handled virtually.
More transparency and security
While it may not seem like sending clients documents virtually would increase transparency, it allows them to review everything on their own as they have time. This decreases the pressure to scan quickly and sign, as they may feel in a physical office setting.
Mobile technology makes it possible to fill in legal fields on a computer or tablet and, in many cases, even sign them virtually.
Blockchain technology ensures these transactions and contracts are handled in a safe and secure way. This revolutionary tech also removes intermediaries, allowing clients to save on commissions and fees, which adds value and builds trust with their agent or broker.
Virtual reality technology allows clients to take virtual tours of properties, which means they can view more properties faster, without visiting in person. This saves time for everyone, not to mention travel expenses, since searches can be narrowed before visiting a physical location.
This technology also allows foreign or out-of-town buyers to access reliable information so they can make buying decisions from afar.
And because agents and brokers are not limited to their physical office space, they’re able to draw up the paperwork and send contracts from wherever they are. With the right tools, agents and brokers have everything they need to conduct business from anywhere.
Does a real estate broker have to have an office?
These days, most real estate agents and brokers work from home at least some of the time, so transitioning away from an office space isn’t a huge leap. While it may feel like you’re losing office support, most people find they’re able to maintain a presence through calls, texts and emails.
And if necessary, meeting in person with clients can still happen in a professional setting. It just may take a new form like a rented meeting room or co-working space.
While physical offices are no longer required in order to provide excellent service, the decision of whether to maintain an office is a personal preference based on how each individual broker chooses to do business.